Berenguela of Castile (1180–1246) is a figure who is often overshadowed by her famous relatives, including her grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, her sister Blanche of Castile and her son Fernando III of Castile and León.
Theresa Earenfight’s new book, Queenship in Medieval Europe, stresses that the medieval royal court could be a woman’s world as much as a man’s.
This well-crafted volume of ten essays is an important contribution to the growing body of research on women and law in England the pre-modern period. Each essay examines a different aspect of women’s interactions with the law (broadly defined and encompassing both secular and ecclesiastical courts) and, as suggested in the title, foregrounds their agency.
Nest of Deheubarth, a 12th-century Welsh princess, has a presence well beyond academic history and interests. She was one of the most famous Welsh princesses and over the centuries has had a significant impact on Welsh history and identity.
Elena Woodacre’s book on the five female sovereigns of the medieval Pyrenean kingdom of Navarre is a timely study considering the latest scholarship on politically active queens in medieval Iberia. This scholarship on ruling women, however, has focused predominantly on individual queens.
In the recent years, queenship has interested and fascinated numerous scholars.(1) While some queens, notably British and French ones, have already received interest from historians, this study is keen on shedding light on the female rulers of the Mediterranean.
This book offers an investigation into the Anglo-Saxon cultural province of Francia during the eighth century (more specifically the area between the Middle Main and Tauber valleys), which, to borrow the author’s own words, ‘argues that the Christian culture of that region was thoroughly gender-egalitarian and in many ways feminist’ (p. 3).
This edited collection fills some important gaps in the historiography of rulership and the interactions between royal couples, particularly in cases when the man is not the legitimate heir.
Before beginning this review, it is important to frame the commentary that follows with two caveats; first, that I (or we as academics), am not the intended audience of this book and secondly, that although I have some criticisms of this work which I will discuss further below, I did genuinely enjoy reading this.
This is an important and timely book. Engaging intelligently with a range of sources and historiographical traditions, Simon MacLean tells the story of tenth-century queenship through the prism of the Ottonian royal family. The Ottonians ruled East Francia (roughly speaking, Germany) from 919 to 1024, and from 961 northern Italy too.